By Wayne Clarke, Managing Director of Metrofile Records Management

Despite modern technology enabling many global businesses to work primarily with electronic documents, 89% of South African businesses are still storing original paper documents. This is according to the 2015 Metrofile Information and Records Management Trends Index conducted among over 200 management executives from local businesses operating mainly in the financial services, education and industrial sectors. It is not surprising that the majority of local businesses are still storing paper-based documents as legislation, such as the New Companies Act and Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, requires it. This proves that paper-based records management is not dead, but is in fact a very necessary part of many business’ operations.

The survey also revealed that 60% of businesses now scan the original paper documents as back-up, a significant 15% increase in comparison with 2014. It is reassuring to see an uptick in the scanning of original paper documents, as this acts as yet another safety barrier to ensure that company information is not lost. Offsite records management no longer just entails the storage of company data and information in purposebuilt facilities. Simply put, this means that documents that are required to be kept merely for legislative reasons can be physically archived and those that require frequent access can be stored and managed within active filing environments, enabling quicker time to access. This also incorporates electronic records management search and retrieval solutions linked directly to the physical record.

Respondents recorded a 12% decrease in confidence levels to 57% when asked about the safety of their company’s paper-based documents (relating to protection from theft or damage). Organisations with low confidence in their exiting records management solution should consult with a reputable service provider to provide guidance and support in order to streamline records and information management processes.

While the results reveal an interest from businesses to implement electronic document storage, the majority of businesses still require original paper-based document management and storage. It is therefore imperative for businesses handling paper documents to ensure the continual preservation and security of these documents.